Double Commonwealth sprint champion Blessing Okagbare will on Thursday attempt to reclaim the national 100m title she relinquished to Gloria Asumnu without a fight last year as the All Nigeria Track and Field Championships begin in Sapele, Delta State.
The Nigerian record holder in the event at 10.79 seconds lost the opportunity last year to stroll into history books as the first Nigerian woman in recent memory to win the 100m gold seven times consecutively.
Two years ago in Calabar, Okagbare equalled the record of six consecutive wins held by former African queen of the track, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi.
Okagbare’s main challenger in Sapele will be defending champion Asumnu whose mouse played freely last year on the worn-out track in Warri in the absence of the undisputed Nigerian sprints queen.
Asumnu holds the second fastest time by a Nigerian so far this year (11.24) behind Okagbare whose 11.09 seconds run late last month in Madrid, Spain is a personal season’s best.
Okagbare’s real challenge however will be to see if she could become the first Nigerian woman to break 11 seconds at the championship and beat her 11.06 seconds championship record first set in 2010 to win her second title.
A run inside 11 seconds will give Okagbare who last month lost her African title and record to Cote D’Ivoire’s Muriel Ahoure renewed hope she could still be among the favourites for a podium appearance come next month in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil at the Olympic Gmes.
By this time last year Okagbare has ran inside 11 seconds three times (10.98 on May 17,10.87 on May 30 and 10.80 seconds on July 4) and the Sapele native will be fervently hoping to break the duck in front of her own people.
Source: Complete Sports Nigeria